Sunday, September 25, 2011

What is a cabbage tree?

I'm resurrecting this old post to clarify just what a 'cabbage tree' as we know them, actually is.

In the southwest of England they are known as Torquay palms, but in fact are not a palm tree at all. They are a giant lilly.

They like wet conditions and so I planted out a whole lot in a boggy patch on our property. These ones are about 6 years old:

Small boy in photo shows scale!

Spring is....beautiful yellow kowhai

Just a short post to show this photo of the native kowhai trees which are in flower at present. These trees are at the bottom of our property in the 'wetland' (or what used to be wetland prior to it being turned over to farming). It would be just fabulous to see the foreground filled up with cabbage trees at some point in the future. But that's a big project for later on, we are still busy with landscaping our immediate surroundings!

Have a lovely day everyone.

Friday, September 23, 2011

On my mind

Those aren't weeds at the back that's coriander!

On my mind (mostly!) today is weeding. I've been up in the garden, at long last getting stuck into some much required weeding. I need a few more hours of hard labouring to get it looking better. Weeding (as G will gladly testify) is NOT my strong point. I see weeds and think "must get onto a bit of weeding soon" but then they grow so rapidly and spread everywhere, including the paths, that the job becomes a mammoth one and I procrastinate about doing it *sigh*.

However, this lovely sunny Spring morning I felt motivated to make a bit of headway with the long garden bed along the fence. I removed some shallots and replanted them elsewhere, dug right along removing weeds as I went, and left the 2 blueberry plants (was going to move them but it's too late now), a chilli plant which has a solitary chilli on it, my 2 hop bines, some lemon balm (although this is growing everywhere now and is invasive like mint) and some marjoram. I think I might put some peas, beetroot and lettuce along here with some calendula.
The job is by no means finished but it's a start!

Linking to Rhondas blog.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Bring home the bacon


Last night hubby collected the pork from the butcher (from our 2 pigs). We only just fitted everything into our 2 freezers (with existing fish/beef/lamb/pork). Now we have loads of delicious smoked bacon again! We also got some roasts, chops and a few hams.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Important - proposed Food Bill

Not content with meddling with our food by allowing GE into the food chain, the Govt is now wanting to restrict our right to trade seeds, food and natural remedies, making it harder to sell produce at markets etc......
Anyone from NZ should read this info about the Food Bill. Many thanks to from Romi at Kaiwaka Organics for permission to use the following text:


The government is being directed to take away some of the rights that you thought were eternal and inalienable. This will effect all of us. If you want to save seeds from your garden and share them
with other gardeners or seed banks this will effect you.

The Food Bill 160-2 (2010) is before parliament and has already passed through one reading and recommendations of the assigned committee have been made to parliament. This means that it is due to go for it’s second reading at parliament with the recommendations integrated into it. It could easily be mistaken for a Bill designed with public safety in mind, but a closer look reveals that this Bill would put an end to your basic right to freely share our food, seeds, and natural remedies.
Anyone selling their own produce would be required to gain legal authorisation to do so, at a cost. Small scale growers and sellers at farmers' markets would be hit with increased costs of compliance, that would of course push up food prices. hurting the growers and the buyers of produce. Not being legally allowed to share seeds without authorisation will discourage diversity of seeds, encouraging homogenisation of seed stock. This would provide massive market advantage to multinational seed corporations such as Monsanto.
You may wonder why the NZ government would want to push this bill through.There are many reasons, but the main reason being presented is that we must comply with the the rules set out for us in the World Trade
Organisation (WTO) which the the NZ government is a signatory to. So why is the WTO so important?
The WTO is the corporate/elite police which rules 'Free Trade', supervising tariffs, subsidies and export barriers. It’s rulings usually favour the US, it upholds the $US as the global reserve currency. This is the same struggle that is going on all around the world, involving 100s of millions of poor people, and it has been hidden from us by our media.
If this all seems surreal and overwhelming to you, you are not alone. This Bill is not yet law, and despite formal public submissions being closed (though few of us heard about it when the submissions were open), it is not too late for those opposed to the Bill to make our voices heard and have a very real impact on parliament as they consider it’s merits.
What can we do about this attack on our fundamental rights to food sovereignty? While there is very narrow provision within the law to opt out of this proposed law being enforced upon individuals this simply is not enough. We believe that it must be stopped! The law can be changed. This is a call out to everyone to get ready to take action.

Sign the petition on line:

We encourage everyone to forward this email to as many people as possible
There is some helpful analysis and other useful information available here:

You can also get an update from Sue Kedgley's blog:

And you may also want to visit:

Monday, September 19, 2011

Our hols and some pics

Hi everyone, I'm back from hols. We had a nice little tour around, visited our lovely friends and had a break from the daily grind on the farm and our paid work.

Get this though, we got all the way to Mt Ruapehu and then could not get up the mountain as the road was closed because of snow and ice on the road.......GO FIGURE..! Not sure what the tourists here for the Rugby World Cup would think of that!! We were not impressed and D was disappointed. However we did manage to find a smattering of snow nearby so he could throw snowballs!


We really enjoyed the beautiful scenery:

Tongariro National Park

Bush (native forest)

We happened upon the Old Coach Road and drove along it as far as we could following the track along farmland. We reached a gate and went through on foot and shortly we came across a beautiful sight:

Mountain Cabbage Trees

Just fabulous! We'd never seen so many together like this.

More beautiful bush and a mountain stream

Snow-capped mountains

Lake Taupo

Thermal activity by lake
The week went very quickly indeed. Now we are back on the farm, and it will be time to swing into action again with so many jobs still to do before the heat of the summer kicks in. We have just had a big thunder storm pass over so a hoorah for a bit more much needed rain water in the tank, but it has been a pretty dry Winter so we are conscious of the fact we don't have a lot at present. Getting the veg garden in order, seedlings underway/planted and also planting the last of the trees/plants we have sitting around the place will be our priority. Sometimes it feels like we're not making a lot of progress, but I guess we'll get there someday!

And lastly here is our lovely view of the kowhai trees with their yellow flowers. They blossom every Spring in early September and put on such a great show all along the wetland area at the bottom of our property.

Saturday, September 10, 2011


Time for a little update as it has been a few days since my last post. May not be of any interest to the vegetarians among you!
As of yesterday, we no longer have our pigs. They have been home killed and are now with the butcher who will process them into the cuts we have asked for, mainly lots of bacon! but also hams, pork chops, roasts and belly strips. We ran out of our last lot of home grown bacon a couple of months ago and have since then been buying it from the local butcher in town, but this does not compare to the bacon from our own pigs! No photos this time. I happened to be out at the time of the home killing but can tell you the pigs had a very happy life with lots of space, good food and plenty of pats/scratches behind the ears from us here on CTF. Can't ask for better than that.
Last night we enjoyed a roast chicken dinner, the chicken courtesy of our own flock. This particular bird (one of our Light Sussex hens) had been flying out of the coop for a while now, and despite clipping her wings, was determined to continue. Since she had a habit of scratching around the newly planted citrus trees, I'm afraid drastic measures were needed to keep her from getting out. What a tasty table bird she made! Quite fatty, but the meat was very tasty indeed and tender too.
In the veg garden I have harvested the last of the purple cauliflowers. Only one of them formed a reasonable sized head -
I made it into a nice creamy soup, using this recipe. Pretty to look at, but not much actual density, which is what we prefer.
I am still harvesting the broccoli which is sprouting off the sides of the plants, although will be pulling these up soon to make more space for summer vegs.
The coriander is starting to go to seed, I will probably end up digging this up also, and the chickens can eat it, as I also need the space where it is growing. I have loads of coriander seed, so not a problem to get more going, although it does grow a lot better here in the cooler months.
Have not progressed much further with gardening apart from digging out a few seeds in readiness.
Next week we are heading away for a much-needed holiday so there will be no posts for a while. We are going south to visit friends, and to see some snow and mountains (Mt Ruapehu), and maybe take a dip in some thermal pools at Rotorua.
Bye for now!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


Does anyone know what plant this is?
It came up in the garden and I (somewhat foolishly) left it there because the bees love it, but now it is appearing all over the place...arrrgh!
Weeding is not my strong point, as G will readily testify, and the little plants are not that easy to rip up by hand. Now I have some serious digging to do..
Other plants that are growing like weeds up in the veg garden are borage:
The bees also love this plant and it doesn't spread in quite such a rampant way as the unknown one above. It is also very easy to remove, although the leaves and stalks can be a bit on the prickly side.
And just look at the globe artichokes:
I gave last years plants a severe pruning and they have sprung up again really well. They do self-seed and in fact I did dig up and replant some of the little seedlings, but they didn't like the spot I chose for them (in the main orchard) and so I'm glad that these ones have done so well. They are quite large plants but aren't getting in the way of anything where they are at present.

On the bank garden this purple osteospermum, or South African daisy, is starting to bloom. I think this is a smaller variety of the red/pink flower I posted the other day, it certainly looks very similar.

However, these purple ones are on just little cuttings that I only planted a few weeks ago, so I was surprised to see flowers on them already. They obviously like the position they are in. I will try to get a better photo of the other one, it has several flower heads almost ready to bloom and they are very large - about 15cm across! These little purple ones though are only about 5cms! Still I like them with their interesting blue and orange centres.